During the 1960s, Clinic radiologist Dr.Thomas Meaney, who later became the chairman of the Division of Radiology and who was then a student of well-known Cleveland drummer Bob McKee, decided to form a doctors' band. Meaney, never one to do things halfway, enlisted a group of the Clinic's most well-known and talented physicians to join him in this endeavor. The most prominent of these were Dr. Ralph Straffon, Dr. Robert Biddlestone, Dr. Richard Westcott, Dr. Robert Hermann, Dr. Derek Lonsdale, and several reidents (including Dr. John Clough, Dr. James Taylor, Dr. Donald Durbeck, Dr. Nick Theras, Dr. Harold Embree, Dr. Gil Houdon, Dr. Barry Neubauer, Dr. Steve Schwid, Dr. Sid Lesowitz, and later on Dr. Mike Sivak), several of whom joined the Clinic's staff after completing their professional training,

Arrhythmias Christmas 1966

Arrhythmias at Cleveland Clinic Christmas Party, 1966

One of the band's trumpet players--the only one who wasn't a physician--was James Harding, administrator of the Clinic's hospital. He had been a professional musician in a prior life, and as previously mentioned, had toured with the Horace Heidt Orchestra. Harding was a jovial soul, and he hosted some of the band's rehearsals at his place in Shaker Heights, one of the grand old homes from a bygone era. The site of the rehearsals was the library, a large, book-lined, two-story room with a balcony, certainly a special place to practice. When he left the Clinic in the late 1960s to accept the job of CEO of the Wilmington (DE) Hospital, both the band and the Clinic lost a valuable member.

Take the A Train

Over the next decade the group achieved a modicum of notoriety for its energetic, appoximately in-tune, performances at various Clinic events, the most popular of which were the well attended nurses' parties at the old Bolton Square Hotel (no photography permitted). A special version of Hello Dolly, called Hello Nurses or Hello Ladies (depending on the whim of the moment), was even "composed" by an unknown wag for one of these events.

Hello Nurses

Mercifully, little remains of this and similar music-literary efforts. One of the nurses of that era, Josephine Fatigante, eventually joined the group as the band's popular female vocalist, much to the delight of all. However, during the late 1960s, interest waned in the type of music performed by the Arrhythmias, and the band eventually disbanded.

--John Clough

(Updated 9/6/2012)

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